Dear Edwards Church Community,
A guest at our annual meeting on Sunday spoke to me afterwards about what he experienced as the palpable goodwill and mutual respect in evidence, even as folks shared different perspectives on the proposal put forth by Council. Our guest noticed that although strong feelings were evident, members of this community seem to care for and about each other at least as much as we want to win an argument or get our way.
He even had the opportunity to observe how, on any given day, some folks may change how they feel or think about an issue once they hear from others, while others will remain convinced of their initial position. And that’s OK. Some days you might change in response to me, some days I might change in response to you, and some days we’ll both learn something we did not expect when we started.
In the coming year we will be addressing several matters that have the potential to stretch and grow this muscle we have for processing potentially sensitive issues together. The proposal from Council (“For 2018, individuals can be elected or appointed to a board or committee without being a member of Edwards Church, and will have full voting privileges on that board or committee.”) was eventually approved, even though not unanimously, and that’s OK too!
In connection with that one-year experiment, a group of interested lay leaders (in consultation with Council) will explore ways we might alter our governance structure to do the work of the church more effectively. If that were not enough, in the coming year we will also (i) take a look at how we honor all forms of stewardship and talk about money and (ii) explore the meaning of church membership.
To help with all of this, in a way that we expect to insure that the process remains consistent with our vision, Deb Moore and I will offer occasional workshops on an approach to dialog that focuses more on developing mutual understanding than pushing to arrive at agreements or solutions. “Knowing that the road is long, we chose to walk together. Finding strength in our diversity, we call on all our talents to worship and serve.”
For an easy introduction to this approach, please watch this video (“Beyond Them and Us”): https://www.whatisessential.org/resource/beyond-them-and-us-practice-and-power-reflective-structured-dialogue If finding this with Google, use the search terms “Essential Partners Resources Beyond Them and Us”. The web site may ask you to set up a free log in account. Essential Partners is a reputable non-profit. But if you would rather just come and learn by doing, by all means do that, whether you watch the video or not.
P.S. Even though Feb. 14 is used for other things, we will observe Ash Wednesday.